Christina was the daughter of a hero-king and a queen who was bat-shit crazy. When her father was killed in battle, her mother refused to allow him to buried, keeping his coffin in her room and often embracing his rotting corpse. Once the burial took place (many months later) she kept his heart in a jar… and slept with it. Christina’s mother also decided to cover the windows and re-decorate the castle in all-black, forcing the entire court to live a mole-like existence.
Yep. That happened.
Knowing that his wife was totally insane, King Gustav II left the kingdom to Christina with instructions that she was to receive the education of a prince, including swordsmanship and hunting. Fortunately, Christina was extremely intelligent. She could speak several languages and dreamed of making Stockholm the “Athens of the North.”
Christina’s intelligence made up for her less-than-attractiveness… to put it nicely. When her mother was pregnant, the astrologers predicted the baby would be a boy. In fact, for a few days after her birth, the royal doctors swore that Christina was a boy, either due to a birth defect or her strong temperament. As she grew up, Christina’s took on a distinctly masculine appearance. Her nose and jawline were pronounced and her gait and voice were considered to be masculine. Adding to her “unfortunate” appearance were her uneven shoulders. Her mother (or the nurse, depending on the story) dropped Christina when she was an infant, breaking one of her shoulder blades. The injury made one shoulder higher than the other. Christina was undeniably masculine, the furthest thing from the demure, dainty lady she was supposed to be.
Christina didn’t mind.
She decided to wear men’s clothes, keep her hair unfashionably short and forego all lady-like manners. She focused on the masculine pastimes she loved: riding, fighting, math and hunting. She surrounded herself with educated men and avoided the topics of marriage and children at all costs.
Rumours began to spread.
People said she was a man, a hermaphrodite and a lesbian. Christina did nothing to dispel these rumours. She spoke openly about never wanting to marry or have children. She amassed a huge collection of paintings, many depicting female nudes. She wrote love letters to men and women. She even stated that the idea of having sex with a man repulsed her.
One day, Ebba Sparre came to court from France.
Beautiful Ebba became Christina’s favourite lady-in-waiting. The Queen gave her the nickname “Belle” and the two were soon rumoured to be lovers. In fact, Christina was so possessive of her lady-in-waiting that when Ebba showed an interest in a particular gentleman, Christina forced her to marry someone else. The man Ebba ended up marrying was not only a bad match, but someone Ebba really disliked.
Christina soon decided to abdicate the throne. Trading her crown for freedom, and leaving poor Ebba behind, she travelled across Europe and lived her remaining years in Rome. She was surrounded by scandal and intrigue until the very end.
In recent years, Christina has become a gay and feminist icon, celebrated by many for her non-conformist lifestyle.
So, the moral of the story is: fuck what other people think.
And Sweden is awesome.
If you’d like to learn more about Christina, this Wikipedia article looks to be correct. There’s also an extensive biography, that I reviewed here.
She’s one of my favourite people. Her and Frida would have totally been lovers, had they been on the planet at the same time.